Nanonox's 1vs1 cube

I'd like a bit of Blink in Blue, but both Soulherder and Displacer Kitten seem too vulnerable considering the speed and efficiency of my removal.

Enter Ghostly Flicker, which has some cool upsides.
- Instant speed means this can be used as protection from removal or as a way to get value from Grief or other evoke elementals. Could give you some surprise blockers as well.

- Hits artifacts, creatures and lands. The lands part has me excited as it could reset an Urza's Saga, untap an Academy, Cradle or Lotus Field, giving it some uses for more combo-centric decks.

- It would theoretically work with Threaten effects if I had any I liked for cube.

Outside of combo decks, I think disruptive tempo decks would like the card. Blink a Venser, Shaper Savant + Elite Spellbinder for a brutal setback. Lands matters decks could make use of it too as a landfall enabler for Lotus Cobra and Tireless Tracker.

Three mana is not trivial to hold up however. Unless you are ahead, it'll probably be used proactively. I don't have many artifacts that are worth blinking either, it's mostly creatures or lands.

Grindy artifacts

I am having a tough time making these work, which is a bummer because I think they are good cards that should make it into more decks. Most of the pieces are there in the cube. Arcbound Ravager, Scrap Trawler, Krark-Clan Ironworks and others make great use of the artifacts they produce or are a worthy of finding with Oswald.

I'll break this down between Oswald and the token creators as they require different fixes.

Oswald should be a great piece of the Jeskai/Mardu/Bant artifact decks, since it can tutor for your Scrap Trawler, Winter Orb, Myr Retriever among others.
He should fit right into decks using these

So what's wrong?

The targets aren' worth it. I recently added Winter Orb which is a tutor target that I am very happy with. I was convinced that Tangle Wire was in the cube, but it's not. So that is an easy inclusion.

It's too slow. I'll touch this with the other cards, but Oswald might legitimately be too clunky. You need to have an artifact in play, tap it at sorcery speed and spend a mana. I don't think it's the case though as I don't have the same problems with Goblin Engineer who also needs mana to tap and an artifact in play.

It's weaker than the alternatives. It's definitely weaker than Emry, Lurrus and Welder. I'd say it's on par with Engineer though, which sees play.

For Samwise and Lonis, I can think of a few issues.

The cube is built around explosiveness and these are grindy cards. It could be that these just don't fit with what the rest of the cube is doing. I don't quite believe this option as these cards are cheap enough that they can flood the board with tokens as you curve out. They can also turbocharge the artifact matters cards in an explosive way.

Needs more supporting cast. These are not high pick build arounds, they are enablers when you are in the right deck. So maybe I need more of build arounds to justify their inclusion.

Ravenous Squirrel is a card I recently added that I think will help. Having a cheap, hybrid threat that scales and can act as a sacrifice outlet seems great. It's not a high pick, but the versatility and cheap mana cost gives it a pass.

Chatterfang, Squirrel General: A second copy of Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second. It's easier to cast and can affect the board at the cost of having worse tokens. I think Jinnie plays great, so I expect the same from Chatterfang.

Bennie Bracks, Zoologist: This one seems spicy and I like it. I am usually pretty cold on 4 mana cards that need additional pieces to work, but the fact it has Convoke is a big game changer that lets you get immediate value. If you already have Lonis or Samwise out when you cast him, you can use them to convoke it out for 3 mana and you immediately draw a card.
Any token triggers it, and you can have some cool builds that use instants to draw 2 cards per turn cycle (Shark Typhoon, Occult Epiphany, Young Pyromancer and company).


I'll be adding (out -> in) these to try and make Oswald, Samwise and Lonis more appealing.

?? ->

I am missing a cut, if anyone has one standing out, I'd love to hear about it.
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The targets aren' worth it. I recently added Winter Orb which is a tutor target that I am very happy with. I was convinced that Tangle Wire was in the cube, but it's not. So that is an easy inclusion.

It's too slow. I'll touch this with the other cards, but Oswald might legitimately be too clunky. You need to have an artifact in play, tap it at sorcery speed and spend a mana. I don't think it's the case though as I don't have the same problems with Goblin Engineer who also needs mana to tap and an artifact in play.

Oswald's main strike for me is that it's narrow....not that it's slow or lacking in impact cards. I really like it in Mardu either as a pseudo Stoneforge Mystic, in a hatebears shell tutoring up various resource denial/tempo disrupting pieces, or in an artifact sacrifice deck interested in looping cards in an out of the graveyard.

1cmc (plenty of artifact tokens to sacrifice)
Retrofitter Foundry
Esper Sentinel
Portable Hole
Experimental Synthesizer

Lion Sash
Ethersworn Canonist
Winter Orb
Cranial Plating
Smugglers Copter
Arcbound Ravager
Myr Retriever

Scrap Trawler
Tangle Wire
Grafted Wargear
Ashnod's Altar
Junk Diver

Krark-Clan Ironworks
Birthing Pod

Few cards can chain you right into an infinite combo (1 cmc artifact, myr retriever, scrap trawler, kci). I'm also fine swinging with it since it's a bear and the artifact aggro decks puts down a lot of pressure early

It's also great if you support Thopter Foundry + Sword of the Meek

I'm less convinced on Samwise in cube...I run Lonis as support for the Earthcraft/Urza deck that pumps out permanents, generates big mana, draws tons of cards, and puts scary things into play.

Lonis likes creatures:

Lonis makes artifacts:

I can't think of another simic card that contributes to that archetype in a meaningful way.

Just my .02
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Oswald's main strike for me is that it's narrow....not that it's slow or lacking in impact cards.
I can get behind that, since as I was saying, Goblin Engineer is similar and plays just fine. In practice though, it's almost never drafted. I've seen it a few times in mono White disruptive artifact aggro decks, but not much elsewhere. I was checking your cube drafts to get inspiration and it was slim pickings there as well.

I should have phrased my question using your words. How to make Oswald less narrow?

- One approach is more premium targets. You’ve covered this nicely, they aren’t lacking.

- Another, could be more artifact sacrifice shenanigans in White. Most of mine are Red or colorless. I have Brought Back in mind. Once again, not sure this is the issue. With Sevinne's Reclamation, Serra Paragon and Lurrus of the Dream-Den that is already a decent amount.

- A third might be more White artifact payoffs. Something like Digsite Engineer to make you want to go into heavier White.

Maybe my expectations regarding deck inclusion is too high, but I think it should be more present in decks!

I run Lonis as support for the Earthcraft/Urza deck that pumps out permanents, generates big mana, draws tons of cards, and puts scary things into play.

Lonis is perfect for that deck! I've also had great success with the Selesnya version of the deck, even sometimes replacing Urza with Krark-Clan Ironworks for a similar feel. What this deck can lacks is the drawing a ton of cards part though, which is why I am testing Bennie Bracks, Zoologist.

The other place where Lonis has been good for me is in Bant decks, usually with Pod or an ETB package.

Regarding Samwise in Selesnya:

First off, I don't know about you, but outside of Knight of the Reliquary, I am not thrilled with the options in that guild. Kitchen Finks and Voice of Resurgence are ok, but pretty replaceable (excluding persist combo for Finks). They do hint at an important theme in the guild though, grindy creatures.

I think Samwise also works in that vein, as it's not hard to have very creature heavy decks with targets to recur with its ability. The possibility to use the artifacts for something else sets it apart from the competition in my books. It helps unlock stuff like Arcbound Ravager, Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second, Nettlecyst and a ton of others.

I am not married to the slot, but also not impressed with the competition.

Thanks for taking the time to respond as usual, it's greatly appreciated!
So far, I'm leaning towards thinking that trying to bring white and green into artifacts this way is a bit of a trap. It's not that it cannot be done, but if you already run Emry and Goblin Welder and the real Pod, perhaps Oswald just isn't necessary.

I'm cutting some of my payoffs (like Tough Cookie) from my cube, not because it's bad, but because the theme feels overstretched.

Regarding Selesnya, I'm just extremely happy with my own selection:

Katilda is a personal choice, but both Knight of the Reliquary and Renegade Rallier are powerful, synergestic pieces that take you in interesting, fun directions. They both cross over several archetypes and use the graveyard. Can't recommend them enough. Beyond that, I think these are all respectable choices:

These are a bit wonky:

I wouldn't bother with the rest. I did try GFlare of Subdual and it proved oppressive and unfun.

Time to get irresponsible! I've been looking for a second cheat card for Green decks to use to go alongside Oath of Druids. Monster Manual is a little too slow and predictable. Natural Order is amazing, but my fatties are colorless and I like it that way. Turntimber Symbiosis, Selvala's Stampede and Bramble Familiar are neat, but don't really cheat at 6+ mana.

Channel is a very explosive card that can let you dump a 9 drop on turn 2. While very strong, the removal package in this cube can handle it. Where things could be fun is with an artifact aggro deck or something where you just spill your hand out. Or a huge Pest Infestation to fill the board. With the curve being low and aggressive decks hitting hard, I think Channel legitimately has a place or at least is worth a shot as an exciting mana engine.

Moving away from archetype synergy to packaged synergy

I've been noticing that as my power level goes up, my decks are less about a single archetype and more about smaller packages that combine into a synergistic whole. This might be due to the increase in glue cards that have been printed and/or the fact that I am leaning harder into artifacts and colorless cards which makes those cards accessible to all color combinations. For my design goals, this is a plus since it lets drafters get very creative with how they draft.

Take this deck for instance

There is a lot going on in this token deck! I could go into detail, but the general gist is that you have discard, sacrifice, artifact and "prowess" all teaming up to form a unique token deck. The tokens can be used for damage, cards or mana to win the game.

What does that mean in practice? Maybe I was looking at my GW artifact archetype wrong. If I want other decks to incorporate the cards, I should instead find a package that can be slotted elsewhere. A package with as many broad archetype overlaps as possible.

On Cube Cobra, I saw that Inscho added a card from WHO I had missed: Astrid Peth. She is perfect for capitalizing on Samwise Gamgee that I wanted to make work. She doesn't care how you sacrifice the artifacts and can grow or fuel the GY pretty handily.
I also liked a suggestion that Erik made with Renegade Rallier. It fits the grindy gameplan, it triggers off the Food being sacrificed and even recurs the two other cards.
Even Channel gets cute when every Food you have generates mana!

This package offers ETB, GY, sacrifice and artifact synergies. I could see Bant decks relying on artifacts/ETB more, whereas Abzan decks would use the GY/sacrifice aspect more.

I had a negative reaction to you including Channel but, you know what? I think it can work.

It's a GG card and it only works with a subset of strategies, namely artifact fatties and some storm variants. The latter is not aproblem and, in fact, can be a boost to a lesser included colour in the archetype.

The problematic cards are the constructs:

Tinker is already good. A two mana Tinker that is less restrictive is very powerful. So the issue here is really the "two card combos" it can create with other cards. Otherwise? I don't even think it will be good, it's a pretty polar card. So please let us know how it worked out for you.

I like that you changed the name of your cube to EXPLOSIVE SYNERGY CUBE so as to indicate you are in Inscho and DBS's land now.
Lost Caverns of Ixalan update

There are some fun things going on in this return to Ixalan. I have a few slam dunks, some high potentials and some maybes. Let's start with the easy ones.

Slam dunks


Black is the king of big reanimation, but I like the idea of giving White small reanimation with Serra Paragon, Sevinne's Reclamation and now Helping Hand. Unearth might not be the right cut as the effect is pretty great, but it Reanimate muddles the water since it is just a better version of Unearth that goes big or small.

Recommission is worth a second look to fully flesh out the package. 2 mana isn't what I want to spend on the effect, but hitting artifacts alongside the +1/+1 counter might be enough.


Losing a point of toughness for a broader range of targets and Lifelink definitely seems worth it, especially since I don't care about the Human creature type.


In the same vein, losing an extra life seems like a decent deal when you get to now target Planeswalkers or just use this as a discard enabler and save that life altogether.

This makes me reconsider my removal suite a little as I now have 4 discard enabling removal spells (Bone Shards, Bitter Triumph, Collective Brutality and Lethal Scheme). I could see replacing one of them for another archetype interaction card (Executioner's Capsule, Dark Blast, Cabal Pit and such).

High potential


I've been wanting a 2 mana combat looter that isn't Looter il-Kor or Suspicious Stowaway. The flash is a nice touch, but I could have done without the Chorus counter nonsense. Is it too much to ask for a simpler design?! Cloudskate is a fun one, but Venser does a very similar job, so I don't mind losing it.


The Theorist is alright, but having to pay mana to rummage is a bummer, as is the fact that you need to risk your payoff in combat to get it going.

Inti allows you to loot off any attack (not just itself) which means that curving with a one drop into it can result in big damage. Trample is a great keyword if you are stacking +1/+1 counters too. The discard payoff is maybe less interesting than the Theorist as you don't know what you are getting off the top. Still, the lack of mana investment, the evasion and the pump make it a very interesting card.


Figure is a great card that beats down and is a mana sink. It doesn't really fit into my goals though as there isn't much to do with it.

Anim Pakal has a lot going for it though. Making artifacts and scaling with counters means you can work to get a lot of value from it. It's also a self-contained engine on it's own. Cast it precombat on turn 3, attack with a 2 drop, buff it and get 2 free "hasty" gnomes to go with it. This is the kind of threat that shines with Helping Hand and Recommission.


Currently, I am not able to get dedicated sacrifice decks working consistently. I have decks that use the sacrifice outlets, but an actual sacrifice deck, not really.
So much of the cube is artifact-centric that I am thinking that some sacrifice tie-ins to artifacts are missing. I don't have many colored cards that care about sacrificing artifacts, so you often end up heavy colorless with some interaction. This is where this Vampire comes in. The rate is decent, scales well and has the flexibility to care both about creatures and artifacts.

I will also be testing

as further ties between sacrifice, counters and artifacts.

Wishclaw will be replacing Demonic Tutor. DT is the only tutor that asks nothing of you. No loss of card advantage, no conditions, just a good card. Wishclaw will more likely go to the deck that actually needs a tutor since the cost of giving your opponent a crack at it is pretty high. It also encourages you to get creative. Welder and Engineer get more valuable. T3feri can bounce it back to hand. Paradox Engine allows you to cast an instant in response to tap it again. You can sacrifice it to various effects. Should have made this swap before, but didn't really register until listening to Dom Harvey's cube episode where he talks about design in synergy cubes.

Reyhan, Last of the Abzan is a card I want to find room for as well, but with 6 Golgari cards already, it feels like I am pushing it. Although 4 of them are hybrids or close enough: Deathrite Shaman, Ravenous Squirrel, Mosswood Dreadknight, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, so maybe not? It's essentially an Arcbound Ravager for all creatures which is really powerful.


More sacrifice support. This is a pretty clean swap. It can definitely backfire if you have no fodder, but the additional range of targets and potential archetype support is nice.


I have a Sulfurous Springs that doesn't do much for me. Not sure this tapped land is the solution as my RB discard decks are already very well supported. That being said, it's cheap to activate and has evasion.

All colors have at least fatty that can be cast on the cheap, except White. This having Convoke and Improvise is neat, as is the less than 3 mana value for the already mentioned cards.

3 bodies from one card and an anthem effect is really good. I don't really have the room for it, but I like the card!

I love the Sun Titan effect, but don't love it's place on the curve. This one fits nicely, but needing Coven is rough as you can't use it to rebuild after a Wrath. Serra Paragon does a similar job, but asks less of you on a better body.

Very solid piece of interaction that pressures the board. I don't have a clean cut for this, but I don't know if I really want it. I am wary of adding too many pieces like this (Spell Queller, Deep-Cavern Bat and such) as an Esper deck with cheap interaction and these creatures could thwart anything the engine decks are doing. I want those disruptive decks to exist, but not to overpower everything else.

Very easy to trigger and plays well with sacrifice/GY/lands. I don't know that I need this, but it's neat!

Another solid and open-ended card. Explore is fun and plays well as draw smoothing or GY enabling, but it's rather low impact. I'm not sure it is worth a cube slot relative to its impact.

I like the Map tokens, they tie a lot of themes together. But it's another type of artifact token with a bunch of complexity. Right now, I don't want that, but I could see myself coming back on this decision.

I think some of these card will add a lot to the cube, I am curious to hear if you think that I missed some cards!

Chris Taylor

Anim Pakal has a lot going for it though. Making artifacts and scaling with counters means you can work to get a lot of value from it. It's also a self-contained engine on it's own. Cast it precombat on turn 3, attack with a 2 drop, buff it and get 2 free "hasty" gnomes to go with it. This is the kind of threat that shines with Helping Hand and Recommission.
You get a gnome per counter, so you do only get 1 when you attack with your 2 drop.
But I do like the idea. Very Rabblemastery
I haven't been able to draft a lot of Channel decks. It's pretty narrow and you need to be pretty heavily into colorless cards. The ones I did draft were really sweet though:

A Jeskai Ascendancy deck with a Green twist. Emry, Welder, Engineer, Steel Overseer and Agatha's Soul Cauldron all abuse the Ascendancy. Emry gives you the cast triggers you need to untap everything and the Ballista/Walker are the 0 drops to let you do so. Samwise gives you a food every time you do so letting you go off should you draw Channel. Channel is also just a good cheat card here, giving you a backup plan.
The Ozolith makes a lot of sense thanks to all the counters being added. Welder can bin your creatures, stack The Ozolith and then dump everything onto Walking Ballista.
The lack of interaction is clearly going to keep this deck in check, but seeing it go off would be nuts.

Another type of deck, Sultai Storm. Pretty standard stuff, but you get a back up plan of cheating a fatty with Channel. Wizard's Rockets is fantastic here, allowing you to convert Channel's colorless mana into colored mana.

Cutting good stuff cards

Dom's Cubecon report really hit home how detrimental some of these good stuff cards can be towards the goal of creating a synergistic environment. I don't want drafters to just ignore all of what I am trying to encourage!


Chandra has been great in all sorts of Red decks and is a fun card. It's a value engine that lets you ignore all the cool things that are going on in the cube. Chandra will take over the game, no engine-building needed.

RG lands is a deck that is somewhat supported, but could use more help. Valakut Exploration is a card advantage engine that can help the durdly lands deck close games. I have experience with it in my MP cube and it's great. Here it's definitely slower, but at the same time, I run Felidar Retreat with success. I think having both Retreat and Exploration can lead to some land-based Boros decks too which is perfect.


In the same vein, Ragavan is above the power level of other one drops and doesn't offer any synergy. I want my aggro decks to resort to synergy like the rest of the cube. I tolerated the monkey because it's easy to answer and an exciting card, but it does too much for too little investment.

Instead, a flexible mana value card that is refreshingly simple to parse. It's another mana sink for decks that care and maybe some fun Channel decks will pop up. I've been looking for more incidental +1/+1 counter cards and this certainly fits the bill!


Ponder and Preordain are among the best cards in the Blue section. They don't look like much, but the amount of smoothing they offer at that mana value is insane. I'd like to keep one as an exciting pick and like Preordain a little more. Mental Note gets the nod over Careful Study as it fits into more decks. It's easier to Snapcaster Mage or Sea Gate Stormcaller a Note than a Study for example.

Bonecrusher Giant is also coming out, but I haven't settled on the replacement yet. It's just a burn spell with a big body. Contrary to Brazen Borrower which is a fantastic tempo card, the Giant isn't as necessary.

BG counters package

One thing I've noticed is that Golgari decks have trouble integrating the artifact archetypes present in the cube. There are GY or sacrifice decks sometimes, but it doesn't happen as often as I'd like. So here is a small (high impact hopefully) package to add a unique dimension to the Golgari.


I don't often end up in decks where I want both Wild Mongrel and Noose Constrictor. Green is a secondary discard color at best. These cards still have their moments, especially alongside Life from the Loam and Berserk/Embercleave. I am happy to keep a single one for now.

With my last tweaks, I have been getting some decent counter matters decks (or subthemes, depending). Green and Black don't have the most ties with artifacts, but Reyhan would be a big part to making those colors included. it's a second Arcbound Ravager that works with all creatures and


Oskar is the weakest of the discard payoffs. Because of the mana value, you already have to fill the GY before you can get a discount, so he comes out late. Also, Dimir discard does happens, but Oskar is not a strong enough pull into the deck compared to Containment Construct for example.

The Stalker adds to my one drop density, plays with discard, self-mill and sacrifice and has incidental counters on it for Reyhan and friends.


I love the Dreadknight and will try and find an excuse to put it back in, but for now the Beastcaller fits better with what I am trying to do. Attacking as a 3/3 seems very easy to pull off and the rest is bonus.

Flesh Carver also fits into this whole counter/sacrifice theme. It's a tad slow, but unless it's exiled, you still get a token which isn't bad. Any thoughts on this one?

Threefold Thunderhulk is another one that I want to include, but feels a tad underpowered. I love the Titan trigger and there is the incentive to slap a Cranial Plating on it for a crazy sequence. Myr Battlesphere is the most obvious swap, but I can't bring myself to do it.

Always open to suggestions/feedback if something jumps out at you!
I am still unhappy with my sacrifice decks, but I might have fix for now. Compared to other archetypes, it requires a lot of work to get rewarded. You need a sacrifice outlet, fodder and a payoff to really be firing on all cylinders.
I like my payoffs for their redundancy and because you can go off pretty hard with them.

Reyhan + Ravager allow you to stockpile counters then redistribute them for big attacks or synergies. Kind of like a Cranial Plating that you attach to an unblocked attacker. Or load a Walking Ballista and machine gun their board. Or create a shit ton of fodder with Hangarback Walker.

Clamp and Yawgmoth draw you all of the cards you could ever need.

Given enough fodder, Devil + Artist win the game. Devil gets bonus points for working with Cataclysm and stuff.

I believe that my prior issue with my sacrifice archetype was that the fodder wasn't matching the high potential/density of the payoffs.


I talked about Gravecrawler here:

tl;dr: it's more narrow than a Bloodsoaked Champion, but it's also the most efficiently costed creature to recur that also counts as being cast. I am not quite ready for Phyrexian Altar, but I could see it happening!

To give the cube a few more zombies, I think these two would fit nicely:


Not sure on the Bitterblossom swap, but they are pretty similar except that Bitterblossom can be both offensive and defensive. Getting the token earlier and being a creature seems like a good tradeoff though.
Shambler lets you get more creative. With counters, it can ressemble a Hangarback Walker and squirrel tribal might be a thing with my next add.


I've flirted with the idea of the General before but couldn't find space. It didn't click that I could just replace Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second for it. Having a single colored pip is huge for fitting it into different color combinations. Losing the two tokens types from Jinnie for one that multiple cards have is gravy.

Speaking of squirrels,


I tried the card out for a short stint, but then cut it without much thought. However, I now realize that it's the kind of spell velocity payoff I need to fit the sacrifice archetype into more than one shell. I don't expect the card to be drafted every time, but when you do use it, it will be a key piece to the deck as both fodder (Earthcraft, Gaea's Cradle) and payoff. Dom mentioned a playtest card in one of his draft reports, but I can't bring myself to include it (it was a cross between Awaken the Woods and Chatterstorm).

I've mentioned that I have enough Golgari cards and while Flayer is cool/good, it's also the least essential to the cube.


A more aggressive "3 drop" comes in. 4 damage, 2 tokens and a card for 3 mana is solid value and gives me precious fodder. The Augur mostly fits into the lands deck which already has grindy options at 3 mana (Crucible of Worlds, Ramunap Excavator, Valakut Exploration, ...)


I want to bring back the Triarch. It's a different kind of fodder that the Rakdos and Orzhov decks will be able to put to good use. Goblin Welder + Goblin Engineerin Red, Helping Hand + Recommission in White.
I like Blade well enough, but it's tough to find cuts! This does make me question whether or not I have enough equipment for Stoneforge Mystic.


If I want explosive things to happen, I have to put the cards with the potential to accomplish said explosiveness. Priest converts creatures into mana, cards and damage which engine decks need. Bartolomé is ok, but not unique enough or powerful enough to be worth a multicolored slot.

I would still like one more fodder card in Red, but haven't found one that I love. Mogg War Marshal might be it, but I am not very excited by the card.

As crazy as it sounds, I’m also considering Recurring Nightmare for the cube. It fits cheat, sacrifice and the GY good stuff in Black. Yes it’s repetitive and uninteractive (can’t respond to it), but it’s also so much fun! I think that the speed of the format would help keeping it somewhat in check as 3 mana isn’t nothing. It would be a power outlier to be sure, but it's a cool build around.
Realistically though, the play patterns with Necron Deathmark and other powerful ETB creatures wouldn't be great, but it's so tempting!

Here is a cool Sultai sacrifice deck with GY and spells matter subthemes that came up, which makes me think I am going in the right direction with the archetype!

Small package update. I love mana denial in manageable doses. It can help keep greedy decks in check and knowing when and which ressources to deny is a fun puzzle.


Tidebender is an effective flash threat that stifles a fetchland or messes with a mana dork/rock in terms of mana denial. It's much more flexible however and can stop a sacrifice outlet or an Urza, Lord High Artificer.

I don't like this cut, as Gifts is an incredible set up piece. I'll add it back in eventually, but want to test out a few drafts on Cubecobra so I need a quick swap.


Bonecrusher is very good, but a bit generic for my tastes in this cube. It's not committal enough for such a good card, so in comes a more flexible removal spell. The two for one aspect of Fire is pretty unique in this list and Ice is a great tempo play to shut down a land or color for a turn.


I've liked the Scarab Swarm and could see myself adding it again. In some decks it creates a huge amount of tokens because you turbo milled yourself or as an answer to a GY deck. Port is a classic that lets you disrupt the opponent just enough to keep the pressure up.
I think Strip Mine is too punishing, but I do like having a second mana disruptive land after Wasteland.

This gives Blue decks a strong mana denial identity which I really like. It encourages the color to play to the board to capitalize on the disruption. Opposition is a card I considered, but that is a little too extreme for my tastes. If it works, your opponent doesn't get to play at all.

Another swap I am considering and would like input on (replacing one of the other artifact fatties)

The lack of evasion is rough, but blowing up 2+ lands on ETB puts a lot of pressure. Since most of my removal suite is 1 or 2 mana, you can still answer it, but you lost ressources. Do you think this would be a good fit?
I like Port a lot. That’s a nice include. I ran out of space for it and opted for Strip Mine, but think about bringing it back often.

Tidebender is interesting, but I’m not super thrilled at the thought of holding 3 mana open for the effect. Look forward to hearing how it works for you

Fire/Ice is an old favorite of mine. It’s never a bad card, but sometimes it can feel like it’s taking a slot from a better card

are you against the test cards? I really like frogkin kidnapper for taxing

Sundering Titan is less scary than it used to be with mana curves continuing to lower. It can still be pretty oppressive in shock heavy environments. I think it’s worth a test.

I’ve considered just adding Armageddon. It might not be the right time now, but feels inevitable.
Tidebender is interesting, but I’m not super thrilled at the thought of holding 3 mana open for the effect. Look forward to hearing how it works for you
Not sure how it will go, but it gives a versatile answer to some of the engines in my cube, without being completely crippling. As part of some more land denial, I've been considering Ertai Resurrected (stifle effect). At some point, if you have a ton of flash answers, it becomes more feasible to hold mana up and the opponent won't know what's coming.

Actually, Ertai might be the cleaner Tidebender since it will impact the board at the cost of giving them a card. Although I am always concerned that too many multicolored removal spells will enable 4+ color good stuff decks.

Thinking aloud here, Ertai might also be a replacement for Necron Deathmark. As the curve gets lower, my tolerance for more expensive cards diminishes. Especially more generic ones like this. The downside is how similar it is to Venser, Shaper Savant.

Fire/Ice is an old favorite of mine. It’s never a bad card, but sometimes it can feel like it’s taking a slot from a better card
I've noticed you do not run more than 3 cards per guild, so I can definitely see Fire/Ice being an issue since it takes the spot of some cool multicolored card. I don't mind having 5+ per section (accounting for hybrid and split cards), so I have more wiggle room. I would happily play this in a mono Red deck, the Ice part is bonus. While not as generically powerful as the Bonecrusher Giant, I think it's more interesting in gameplay.

are you against the test cards? I really like frogkin kidnapper for taxing
Love that card, but hate the playtest cards. I might make an exception anyways as it works so perfectly with the Esper mana denial theme. Better than Deep-Cavern Bat anyways. Could be combined with Sinkhole and the aforementioned Ertai Resurrected for a spicy UB deck.

Sundering Titan is less scary than it used to be with mana curves continuing to lower. It can still be pretty oppressive in shock heavy environments. I think it’s worth a test.
That's kind of where I land, I think it has potential. I could see myself cutting Ancient Stone Idol or Triplicate Titan for it, as they offer basically the same effect. Plus with Tinker and reanimation, combined with the UB mana denial plan, it seems like it could work well in tandem.

I’ve considered just adding Armageddon. It might not be the right time now, but feels inevitable.
As much as I love land destruction, Armageddon doesn't do it for me.
1. It has less synergy potential than a Balance or a Cataclysm.
2. It's too punishing. If you have the lead and slam Armageddon, your opponent won't come back. The same could be said about the other two, but if they put you in a winning position, I feel that you've done more than just add to the board.

As you say, this is right now, maybe in the future things will have changed enough that Armageddon will be a cool include.

I'm going to test


Thanks for the inspiration!

Doing circles in cube designs with this one. I had this in earlier iterations of the cube, where I ultimately cut it because the +1/+1 counter archetype was under represented and the sacrifice archetype was less supported in both White and Green, the main counter colors.

What initially drew me in was the resilience to removal and the high ceiling potential. The high ceiling is even more potent now with the artifact and Golgari counters/sacrifice package.

The Emperor is cut for two reasons.
1. It's too generically good. I am on a mission to limit these cards as they take away from the synergy. It plays well, but I've found that White is already very powerful and doesn't need this powerful planeswalker.

2. I run a lot of removal. For fun, I counted the amount of spot removal in White for the Bun Magic Cube, which is notorious for being interaction heavy. It has 13 removal spells in White, I have around 12! With the goal of building engines and combo deck, a slightly lower removal count would fit my design goals better.


With the previous point about removal, I am more excited to have a temporary answer that delays the opponent rather than a permanent one. While Ending is always great, I don't necessarily support an explicit multicolor deck, so I am not sad to see it go. Partition also exiles, also hits any type of nonland permanent and is an instant to boot. This is also great for the mana denial decks I am pushing!

Invasion of Gobakhan is the next step, but I am off Battles unfortunately.


The Spirit is a filler card. It has its moments and the rate is ok, but nothing crazy. The effect is still somewhat present with the Lieutenant coming in.

Thalia offers nice disruption in most matchups, but is still easily answerable (thanks Inscho and Chris for the idea + validation).

I am not thrilled to be adding another 3 drop in White though. I could see swapping Loran of the Third Path for Cathar Commando, but I really like the tap ability alongside Faerie Mastermind, Orcish Bowmaster, Jeskai Ascendancy and Paradox Engine. This might be niche enough to not be important.


I had a few games against Pest Infestation where it was just too much against aggressive decks. I was curving out with a Bomat Courier and Magda, Brazen Outlaw. The opponent casts a turn 3 Infestation, removed my Bomat and had two blockers that gained life back. Similar thing happened later in the game except there were more targets for the Infestation and more tokens created and life gained.

With the heavy artifact nature of the cube and the access to large amounts of mana, I can see these play patterns happening often and they are not what I want to encourage!

What I do want to encourage is aristocrats in Red. I figure that the Bombardiers is a fine way to do this since it works with artifacts as well. I would love to chuck a Sundering Titan to someone's face! It's also synergistic removal which isn't always easy to find at higher power levels.

I'd like to find some room for Irencrag Pyromancer as a more controlling Red card. I'm also often drawn to Escape to the Wilds as a non-Blue way to get card advantage. Mishra's Workshop is also on my list of cards I'd like to include, but space is tight!
Balancing big and small game decks

I like big games (BG). My first cube is a multiplayer one where the board states are large, people draw and play lots of cards. The games usually end with a big finish as someone assembles an engine with some reversals along the way.

I like small games (SG). Call me a sadist, but I love destroying that crucial land the opponent needed to go off. I enjoy clearing the board and winning with a Mishra's Factory beating down for 10 damage. I get a kick from seeing the light fade from the opponent's eyes as I Mana Tithe them during their big turn.

"So you are making two cubes right?" Wrong! I want to try and encapsulate both types of games inside the same cube as the contrast is very interesting to me. So I'll mostly be focused on the BG vs SG dynamic.

The way I see it, my tempo and control decks represent the SG decks. They try to restrict what the opponent can do with interaction and close the game by with cheap threats (tempo) or inevitability (control).
On the other end of the spectrum, my BG decks are the various synergy piles that show up. They can be permanent based (aristocrats) or spell based (storm) and try to build a critical mass of ressources to win.

If left alone, the BG deck should take over as the game progresses. They are building towards a synergistic endgame that would trump whatever fair strategy a SG deck is pursuing. However, if those SG decks have access to unlimited interaction, then the BG deck has no chance. Everything will be removed and they will never come off the ground.
Clearly there is a middle ground where both can have a shot and a lot of that will hinge on the type and density of interaction.


For this cube, I want the gameplay to be fast-paced with some broken cards, so interactive spells need to be able to follow. This means cheap mana values almost universally.

To help balance the BG/SG dichotomy, there are some characteristics I am looking for in my interaction

1. Temporary: Most engine decks hinge on a few key pieces to really go off. If those are answered permanently, then it can be difficult to execute your game plan. As such, temporary solutions are a great way to keep everyone on their toes. Let's look at a recent change I made


Yes, Partition is weaker than Ending. But this isn't about power level, it's about allowing different deck strategies to cohabit in interesting ways. Partition keeps the door open for the synergy deck to reclaim their critical engine piece. It also gives a window to the interactive deck to pressure the BG deck and make that delay count.
I also find it more fun to optimize the Soul Partition. By destroying lands or mana rocks you can really extract out a lot of value from it.

Other examples of temporary removal

White and Blue are the best at this, I'd love to hear ideas for other colors!

2. Drawbacks: If you are stripping a ressource from the opponent, you can mitigate that by giving them something back. That way you still answer what needs to be taken care of, but it won't be quite as backbreaking for them.

Concealing Curtains could be another consideration, would appreciate suggestions for this category.

3. Open ended: Synergy decks can care about creatures, spells, artifacts, the GY. You need ways to answer various card types. The best of the best are counterspells in that regard. Because of their versatility, I've chosen to omit unconditional counters with no draw backs. Instead I have a few categories

Unconditional but temporary:

Unconditional but drawback:

Conditional, but no drawbacks:

Hand disruption is up there too in terms of efficacy. Not only do you get information, but you also get to be proactive, stopping any possible ETBs from creatures or uses from artifacts or enchantments.

Mana denial

Mana denial is it's own beast and I like what it brings to a format. Not all colors have counterspells, meaning they are vulnerable to some of the bigger non-permanent haymakers (Time Spiral, Yawgmoth's Will, Cataclysm, ...). To stand a chance against those cards, I believe that slowing down mana production can achieve the same result. If you are forced to Dark Ritual and untap only 4 lands when you cast Time Spiral, you might fizzle or have to pass turn. There are some very powerful lands in the cube too and having answers to them will keep the opponent honest to some extent.

Non-games are a risk, but I have a few ideas on how to mitigate that in a later section.

Adjusting the interaction in my cube

In regards to interaction, I'd say that the cube is in a good place right now, but it could be better. Some standouts like Swords to Plowshares and Thoughtseize are too punishing for the opponent at too little cost for the caster. I'll be considering other options like Oust that are temporary or Duress that are conditional.

I am also missing some GY interaction. However, I dislike ones that hit the whole GY as it's too tough to rebuild after. Scrabbling Claws and Cling to Dust are looking decent for that purpose.

I could see myself adding even more mana disruption and these are the forerunners.

Wildfire can be an answer to Tolarian Academy, a source of landfall or fixing alongside a cantrip. I'd love to add a Flagstones of Trokair package with Braids, Arisen Nightmare, Crop Rotation and the rest of the gang. This would be more reasonable at a higher cube size though.

Mage is interesting because it can be recurred. Unearth, Helping Hand and the others can make this a nuisance of a card. The floor is abysmal though.

Ajani is an interesting Walker for RW control decks. The Helix mode is obviously strong, but it's the +1 that has me excited. Doing a Rishadan Port impression is annoying, but not devastating. You have time to answer it with creatures before getting destroyed with the one-sided Armageddon. Since I cut Chandra and Emperor, I might slot this in to nudge players into a Boros deck.

Other balancing tools for BG/SG

I am most afraid of BG being smothered by SG. So here are some ways to mitigate that dynamic that could be implemented.

Low mana value engines and/or temporary mana boosts: The impact of mana denial is lessened when you can still function thanks to minimal mana requirements such as a Young Pyromancer or whatever. Cards like Dark Ritual will also help get you out of problematic situations. Right now, my highest mana value engines are artifacts (KCI, Paradox Engine, Bolas's Citadel, ...) so it might be worth considering Mishra's Workshop and/or Grim Monolith as ways to keep these cards relevant under mana constraints.

Resiliency and protection: You want SG decks to manage the board, but BG should be able to get some of those cards back. Between a decent amount of recurring threats and multiple ways to recur cards from the GY (Regrowth, Jace, VP, Breach, ...), I've got this covered. Where I am lacking is in terms of protection spells or effects. Things like Ward and Hexproof are almost completely absent as are combat tricks/protection. Mother of Runes and Giver of Runes do a lot of the heavy lifting!

Is a great candidate that has some build around potential which I like. Do you run any protection spells?

Threats that don’t snowball too hard: I don't want the SG decks to run away with the game once they've disrupted the opponent a bunch. I want threats that apply pressure, but not too much. As an example Laelia, the Blade Reforged is excessive. It scales and continues to exacerbate your advantage by drawing you cards. Same deal with Monarch cards. I am on the fence for some cards like Luminarch Aspirant which is pushed, but the play patterns are fun for both players and they fit supported themes.

That's all I got for now, I'll leave you with a cool WRu artifact +1/+1 counter Ascendancy deck. Love seeing the counter theme outside of just Selesnya!

Grim Monolith is superstrong, but, in my cube, it's surprisingly limited. If you are not ramping the full amount, it's not really worth the card disadvantage, so you need certain targets for it to be good. This has made it a roleplayer rather than a generic goodstuff card.

Don't get me wrong, it's strong, but it won't go in every deck.
I guess I worry it's too easy?

If you are not ramping the full amount, it's not really worth the card disadvantage, so you need certain targets for it to be good.
You make a good point especially since I gutted a lot of my generic top end. You can still cast an early Primeval Titan or something and that is good. But not out of line with what the rest of the cube is doing.

It does nicely ramp up to the targets that can use it well (KCI, Paradox Engine), especially in the face of mana denial as I was saying.
I am pretty sure I want the Monolith or Mishra's Workshop. The land allows me to jam Lodestone Golem which I like the idea of, but it is a lot more narrow. Maybe Ancient Tomb is the compromise I am looking for come to think of it.
Ancient Tomb is better than Monolith by a wide margin. In many ways, it's a better Mox Diamond. It accelerates you, not into big spells, but into 3 drops, which is huge. Mishra's Workshop works, but it's only useful to one drafter.

While it's easier to use Grim Monolith than play Reanimator or similar strategies, the result is less powerful and has less redundancy. So I feel the optimal use for the card in our cubes is for specific strategies, not as general good-stuff ramp. The best card to ramp into with it in your cube, and by a far margin, is Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. It's hard to deal with it, it generates card advantage and it doesn't require anything special from you. In fact, it even protects itself by untapping two lands.

The other targets all seem more middling and most hit on different angles:

Here the most powerful pick is Titania. You will probably be happy about Terror of the Peaks, Sneak Attack and Gyruda being boosted.

Your other big targets are too expensive or colour heavy for the Monolith:
Ancient Tomb is better than Monolith by a wide margin. In many ways, it's a better Mox Diamond. It accelerates you, not into big spells, but into 3 drops, which is huge. Mishra's Workshop works, but it's only useful to one drafter.
I agree with that, but at the same time with double shock and double fetch, the life loss of the Ancient Tomb really adds up, creating an interesting risk/reward dilemma.

Grim Monolith is probably even safer than what you think since these are cards from my MP cube which has higher mana value cards! You are right, looking at the list of things it enables makes it an interesting include rather than a generic one, thanks for the feedback.
Getting Black involved with artifacts

The artifact theme in my cube is pretty expansive, to the point where it is almost an artifact cube. Yet Black doesn't participate as explicitly as I would like.

Cheat, sacrifice, +1/+1 counters and recursion. These cards work with artifacts, but don't draw you into the artifact deck. You are essentially "artifacting" an archetype as explained in dbs's post thanks to these:

I hit Scryfall with (foracle:artifact color=B) to get all the Black cards that explicitly care about artifacts. There are 3 cards I've considered that would actually pull me into an artifact deck, I've ordered them by how much I like them.

Reasons for being in the artifact deck

This is super narrow, but also powerful for a single mana. Triggering from both sides of the battlefield is important and I could see some cool combo kills involving this dude. Perfect for the grindy artifact deck or the token spam deck with Lonis, Cryptozoologist, Samwise Gamgee and friends.
At my power level and speed, this basically replaces Marionette Master, the ultimate Black artifact card in my mind.

A big flying discounted threat that can take over the game. Controlling the hand and the board is a recipe for success. The dream is to double spell with this Demon, or keeping mana up to activate its ability. I like that this one encourages a different dimension to artifacts which are usually aggressive, small and grindy or combo focused (cheat or otherwise).

I think Braids, Cabal Minion's time has pass at my power level, but this new version has legs. It can be a role player in land or aristocrat decks too, which is great. I will say that it is not a big pull into artifacts, but fits with the theme of the deck. I don't have any experience with it at all, but it would fit the grindy artifact deck for sure.
However, being three mana, capped at once per turn and giving the opponent a choice is probably too many downsides.

Rewards for being in the artifact deck

I like these instant speed draw spells. When enabled, they are efficient, with Search being especially interesting as a Surveil 4, draw 2 for three mana and tying together a lot of archetypes.

An second copy of Living Death? Not really as clearing the board is a huge part of Living Death's strength. It does have the advantage or returning the creatures you sacrifice to it though. If this could bring back the artifacts that you've sacrificed, it would be fun and OP. As is, 5 mana is too much especially when it loses the easy comparaison to a classic.

An interesting tutor, but it has some pretty big downsides.
- The mana requirements are horrible
- Unplayable without Bargain
- You have to cast the spell now, meaning you cannot use it to set up your combo, you have to go for it right away.

The sequencing issues is actually my least favorite part. Also, when missing Paradox Engine as a target, you might as well spit in my face. So a pass for now.

Multicolored options

There are some good multicolored Black artifact cards and these could also be a tool to push drafters to including the color in their decks.

Tezzeret is a classic. It makes every Bauble into a threat and is fun to pair with +1/+1 counters like Walking Ballista. The +1 isn't very reliable in my experience, which essentially makes it a one ability walker.

The Anvil is a great piece for chipping away at the opponent. Especially with the Disciple of the Vault, it could add up quickly!

Dakkon is another piece for the slower artifact deck. It's perfectly good on it's own, setting up the GY or removing threats, but the -6 is a good win condition that forces you to care about artifacts. I don't love that it is repeatable exile removal as that is pretty harsh, but it's once per turn IF you have 6+ lands.


I think that adding a mix of artifact cards that work at different speeds is a good way to make sure Black is represented in multiple archetypes across different color combinations.

I'd also like to add Oni-Cult Anvil and Rowan's Grim Search but can't find cuts.

As alluded to above, the artifact package seems decent, the issue is space!
- Disciple might need a cut from another color, because I like all of my Black cards! Call of the Herd is a likely candidate.
- Herald could replace either Tasigur, the Golden Fang or Gurmag Angler as a cheap threat that cares about artifacts rather than the GY.
- Tezzeret could be added instead of Ertai Resurrected.

Anything I've missed? How did you manage to get an explicit Black artifact theme for your broad artifact archetype?
Thank you for the post! I think I am at a similar crossroads, where all the other colors interact with artifacts except black (though my cube is a smidge less powerful). I don't know how aggressive your black section is but some decent adds there could be Blade of the Oni and Skorpekh Lord. The 40k Deck in General has a lot of neat black artifacts such as Necron Death mark and Royal Warden.

I really love Herald of Anguish and hope they revisit improvise with Kaladesh 2. Oni-Cult Anvil is also a favorite of mine. The disciple has never impressed me (in EDH) but I've also not seen it in action often enough to know for sure.

I'm interested to see how it turns out!

EDIT: I also kinda like the new Teysa that no one is talking about Teysa, Opulent Oligarch and Hidden Stockpile but they might be a bit weak for you.
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Thanks for the suggestions. I've considered the artifact aggro approach in Black, with Vault Skirge, Triarch Praetorian, Scrapheap Scrounger and friends doing some decent work as well. It's a good deck that comes together sometimes, the issue is the payoff.

Skorpekh Lord is fine, but ultimately pretty narrow and a mediocre payoff. Not a big pull into artifacts. That is the same problem with the Wardon and Deathmark. Great cards, but just incidental artifacts rather than a reason to go into the deck.

On the other hand, Imotekh could be a good fit for you. It triggers off of so many things (delve, Welder, Unearth, Sevinne's Reclamation, Scrap Trawler, ...). I have a few decklists with Imotekh from my "fast" multiplayer cube in these two consecutive posts ( if you want to check it out.

If your power level can take it, definitely consider Marionette Master! Such a fun card that you can also try to optimize by recurring it with Reveilark or pumping it with Cranial Plating for monster pings.

I've considered Hidden Stockpile as it is cheap enough and provides a stream of artifacts. The issue is the cost of activation, I am not sure it would be played compared to all the other free sacrifice outlets. Teysa is a cool card for another cube though.
You are probably right, that Skorpekh Lord is not a pull into the deck and that the other two are just generically good.

I have played quite a bit with Marionette Master in draft and commander and love the card! Unfortunately a bit on the expensive side.

Imotekh, the Stormlord was my favorite card from the spoilers but I kind of forgot about it since the trigger is quite specific. On the other hand we just got a whole set with "leaves the graveyard" triggers, so mayber there's one or two more interesting cards.

Thanks a lot for the recommendations and sorry I couldn't be of more help. I think black is somewhat shallow together with green, concerning artifacts but we are getting a couple hundred cards a year so its only a matter of time. If you try out the Herald I'd be curious to hear about it! I think you need a high artifact density deck before it is good. I would not want to pay more than 3-4 mana most of the time.